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.During the two months Neely spent with Gomez's troops his camera, his razor and a pair of lace-up boots disappeared.He had interviewed Calixto Garcia, the insurgent field commander with the bullet hole in the middle of his forehead, put there years ago when he shot himself in an attempt to avoid capture.A Spanish surgeon saved his life and Garcia wore the wound stuffed with cotton.He had interviewed a British military observer, a young subaltern named Churchill who had high praise for Cuban cigars but not much to say about the tactics of this war: “If the Cubans wish to convince the world that they have a real army, they must fight a real battle.”Neely had interviewed Spanish generals and naval officers.Most recently he'd interviewed Captain Sigsbee and survivors of the Maine disaster and had told Amelia about the marine at San Ambrosio who stared without moving or speaking, in total shock from the blast.He was arranging to have a chat with Clara Barton, here representing the American Red Cross on behalf of the reconcentrados.But the person he'd rather talk to than Bill McKinley or the queen regent of Spain was Amelia Brown.She'd say, “Why? I'm not news.”No, but she had met just about everyone in Cuba who was and her air of insouciance talking about them was fascinating.He asked her, “What do you think of Fitz?”General Fitzhugh Lee, American consul here in Havana, former Civil War hero and nephew of Robert E.“He's fat,” Amelia said.“That's all?”“He told me he thinks the Maine was blown up by a mine that was the work of a few, quote, 'malicious individuals.” Interesting? Not unlike saying some naughty boys did it.He also believes that nearly every person born on this island is instilled with a dislike of the Spaniards and their methods.Even, he said, those born of Spanish parents.“Interesting.Another one.What about the former captain-general, Weyler, known to one and all as “the Butcher”?“He has rather soft blue eyes for a Spaniard.”“Really.”“He asked me to leave Rollie and go to Madrid with him.I thought about it—I've never been to Europe.”“Amelia, the man's a monster, the most bloodthirsty military leader in recent history.”“I didn't go, did I?”Neely would tell her that one of these days she actually would become tired of Rollie and leave him.“Then what will you do?”“I haven't thought about it.”“When you were a girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?”“I'm still a girl, Neely.I'm only twenty.”“How old?”“Does it matter? What you're trying to say is, didn't I dream of becoming something more respectable than a courtesan, a rich man's girlfriend? Well, yes, I could see myself married to someone like him, but would I be better off?”“Could you see yourself married to an ordinary working man?”“Well, not if he's just ordinary.What would be wrong with his having money? The question is, do I want to marry someday and have babies? I don't know.I guess I've never thought about it.”The feeling Neely had, he wouldn't be surprised to see Amelia step out of some type of cause clbre incident and become world-famous overnight.“In the company of a visiting dignitary,” Amelia said, “when he's assassinated, shot through the heart by an anarchist, and in the photograph you see his blood all over my white organdy tea dress.”Neely said he had in mind something more on the order of what Mr.William Randolph Hearst did with Evangelina Cisneros in the Journal.“Invented her,” Amelia said.“Well, she did exist,” Neely said.“They found her in prison awaiting trial for rebellious actions against the state.” “Or was it for not going to bed with the alcalde?” “Amelia, there was a worldwide petition to get her out, 'the beautiful seventeen-year-old daughter of the revolution languishing in Death's Shadow,” Casa de Recogidas, the vilest prison in all Cuba.Julia Ward Howe said, “How can we think of this pure flower of maidenhood condemned to live with felons and outcasts, without succor, without protection'.something about 'under a torrid sky, suffering privation, indignity”“How do you remember all that?”“It didn't do Evangelina any good at all.Spain wanted to send her to an even worse prison, in Africa.So one of Mr.Hearst's boys helped her escape.”“You mean,” Amelia said, “he paid off the guards and she walked out.”“They made it look like an escape—it's the same thing.The beautiful Evangelina was escorted to Washington, where she was received by President McKinley.”“Julia Ward Howe singing ”The Battle Hymn of the Republic'?““Possibly.The president, anyway, and one hundred thousand cheering Americans.”Amelia said she never thought Evangelina Cisneros was that good-looking.Neely said, well, she wasn't bad.This evening at the hotel cigar counter Neely said, “You know something? I would rather write about you than Julia Ward Howe.”“And Clara Barton?”“Even Clara Barton, and there's a good story there.The Red Cross has brought in so much condensed milk for the starving children, some of the Cubans are selling it to buy cigars.Oh, and before too long I want to interview that insurgent leader they call Islero, I'm told a very colorful character.” “Colorful meaning colored?”“That's right, Islero is pure Negro, a slave at one time, before he ran away to become a bloodthirsty bandit and evolved, finally, into a moderately famous insurrectionist.He's known as the Black Death.Or it might be the Black Plague; now I'm not sure.”“What about the cowboy? He might be interesting,” Amelia said.She turned from the cigar counter.“He's right over there as we speak.”By the dining room talking to his partner and Rollie's man, Victor Fuentes, the cowboy looking this way as Fuentes said something to him.Amelia smiled and watched him touch his new panama.“I already know a few things about him,” Neely said.“One, he was born and raised in your hometown, New Orleans.”“You made that up.”“Lives in Arizona now.He's been to prison.” “Really.What did he do?” “Robbed banks.”Amelia said, “Oh my,” her eyes shining [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]